INMATES & POLITICS

“It’s time to give prisoners and felons their right to vote back” By Paul Stotts

Have you ever heard the phrase “taxsation without representation?” Well what about “Representation without control of the vote?” Thats kinda the way it is when you control a felon but give them no say in their representation.
For the past few weeks I’ve been collecting information on prisoner voting rights as well as post prison voting rights. I’m preparing a persuasive speach for a college class I’m taking. I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you here today.
I’ve found that each state comes to their own conclushion on the issue of felon friendly voting laws. States such as Vermont and Maine give everyone the right to vote, including prisoners. Well, there is one charge that will exclude you from this right, and that is a conviction for voter fraud. Not sure how many prople are imprisoned on that, but I’d have to guess the numbers are low, if nonexistent. Yes, you read that right. Groups such as the ACLU go into the prisons in Vermont and Maine, register the prisoners to vote, inform the prisoners of the current issues and positons of officaials, and assist with the process. Overall, it seems that this has been a pretty successful process in these states. New Jersey has actually took note of the progress in these states and plans to push this issue in the future.
Over all, one in thirteen African Americans are completly disenfranchised from the voting process. This has a very negative impact on democracy. When you look at a state such as Florida, one in every five African Americans are disenfranchised from the vote. Every single felon in the states of Kentucky, Florida, and Iowa are not allowed to vote for the rest of their life. Where is the second chance? Where is the end of the punishment? The mistake one made years and years ago, maybe at 18 years old… now maybe having your 90th birthday… those states don’t care… your still not worthy of the vote!
I’ve been conducting much of my own research on this subject. I found that Greg, the president of the “Reaching Out From Within” organisation here actually ran a mock vote in a prison. He told me that 71% of the entire prison population preregistered to vote, and of those, 70% turned out and actually voted. So as you can see the interest is there. I’ve talked to many here at the prison, the interest is there.
It’s time to start strengthing social ties the day a person comes to prison. Part of that is teaching about democracy and the voting process. What better way to do it than actually getting involved.
I will admit, there are arguments on both sides of this issues. I may look into them a bit deeper if there is any interest from the readers of this. I’d love to hear your thoughts on such a progressive issues as letting prisoners vote. I actually think it could work, and I think it could help change the overall makeup of the prison system. It’s time for socail change, it’s time to allow felons and prisoners voice to be heard.
Hope you’ve enjoyed and have a blessed day.

Paul Stotts
DOC #93319

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1 reply »

  1. You might also talk about the fact that prisons are almost always built in rural conservative districts. The prisoners boost the population of those districts (giving them more representation in congress) without changing their political orientation. This is known as prison gerrymandering.

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